A Santa Monica senior-citizen couple who alleged that they received improper billing, overcharging and substandard work from a plumbing contractor has been reimbursed more than $27,000 by the contractor.

The Santa Monica City Attorney’s Office successfully resolved a complaint last month that was filed by the couple against the Los Angeles area plumbing contractor, Schuelke Plumbing. The contractor reimbursed the couple all of the $27,030 that they had paid, according to a city attorney spokeswoman.

Schuelke Plumbing has denied any wrongdoing in the case.

In July 2007 the Santa Monica couple, who are both in their 80s, initially contacted Schuelke for a plumbing repair in their kitchen. After an exterior inspection, a Schuelke representative allegedly determined the couple had a “plumbing emergency” and that all pipes needed to be replaced immediately. The couple agreed and the contractor did a complete re-piping of their house and property, according to the city attorney’s office.

The complaint alleged the following improprieties by Schuelke:

— failing to honor their warranty when problems arose with the job;

— failing to obtain city permits for the job;

— failing to give a breakdown of parts and labor on the bills; and

— failing to list all payments received on the bills.

The California Contractors’ State Licensing Board investigated the couple’s complaint and hired an independent expert, who investigated the job.

According to the city attorney’s office, the expert concluded that:

— Schuelke’s work was below acceptable standards;

— there were some 15 code violations in the work performed; and

— Schuelke charged more than 20 percent higher than a reasonable rate for the work performed, which the expert concluded should have been between $20,000 and $22,000.

The licensing board also determined that it will cost the couple an additional $12,000 to bring the plumbing work that was done up to code.

After an investigation, the City Attorney’s Consumer Protection Unit helped the two sides to reach a settlement without resorting to the courts.

The licensing board plans to continue its own investigation into possible discipline against the contractor.

Share